Global Warming & Population Growth
Now that the public has finally been awakened to the dangers that global warming and other associated forms of environmental upheavals which threaten our planet, very serious ethical choices face us as well.
Certainly, one issue is the question of population control. For if we are already confronted with what amounts to an environmental Armageddon with some six-billion or more people on the face of the earth today, what happens when the population reaches—as the experts predict—at least nine-billion by 2050?
some of these same experts are claiming that once we reach the nine-billion
mark things will stabilize at that point. But there seems to be a “Catch 22” lurking in that prediction. That’s because the prediction is based
largely on the observation that when countries become “developed” through
industrialization, population growth is almost inevitably decreased, or, as is
the case with
major example of this problem at present is the
what to do?
appears then that the only effective remedy—one that goes far beyond limits on population growth—has to be one that emphasizes
drastic measures to cut back the amount of pollution, beginning with those
populations that are consuming the highest amounts of energy, whether in
proportion terms—as in the
absolute terms, as in China, whose energy consumption will soon equal that of
the USA. High-tech fixes, like producing large amounts of ethanol to replace
petroleum-based fuels (gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil) is not enough, and, in
fact, in some ways could make the situation worse. Replacing fossil-fuel generated electricity
with that produced by hydroelectric and wind-powered generators may help
some. New, safer nuclear-powered
electrical generating plants, such as those developed by
However, when push comes to shove, nothing can replace the necessity of adopting a simpler, less energy-consuming life-style. Here, on this count, the so-called “developing nations” still have an advantage. This is the kind of life most of their people have been living all-along.
What remains, especially for us who have lived so lavishly at the expense of the environment for so long, is to share the really worth-while life-enhancing developments, such as our nutritional, medical, and other social advances with less-fortunate peoples. Yet, at the same time, we must rid ourselves of the wasteful and pollution-producing habits that are rapidly destroying our environment.
It is this challenge, perhaps more than any other, that forms the moral/ethical imperative of the remainder of this new century. Many of the other problems, like war, disease, and famine are directly or indirectly connected with environmental degradation. Some of them may be temporarily fixed by various short-term measures. But if we fail to secure the long-term future of planet Earth as a suitable home for life, we will have, for all practical purposes, lost it all.
R W Kropf 2/28/07 Population.doc (690 words) 07-02-28.html